If there’s anything we’ve learnt from the pandemic, it’s that flexible working works. Now, in the flux of a global recession, the business world is considering to shift towards a 4-day work week. Though this may seem counterintuitive at first, research across different regions shows that there are in fact many benefits to working 4 days a week, with 97% of the employees who took part in “Assessing Global Trials of Reduced Work Time With No Reduction in Pay” (2022), strongly wanting the 4-day work week to become permanent while 92% of the employers who partook in the UK pilot trial conducted by 4 Day Week Global, were also eager to retain it.
But the question still stands: Why is the 4-day workweek working for people?
Burnout has been an enduring problem across all sectors, inflamed by the pandemic and its long-lasting effects on not just the human body but the human psyche. Burnout, along with other psychological afflictions caused by being overworked, stress, anxiety, and a loss in concentration, can be mitigated through the 4-day work week as employees have more time to destress and unwind through relaxation and recreation. With more time to spend with their friends and family, employees are able to establish a better work-life balance, approaching work with a sense of purpose rather than necessity.
A study conducted by the New Economics Foundation found that shorter workweeks were associated with increased happiness, improved mental health, and higher life satisfaction. Similarly, a study by the University of Cambridge found that reducing work hours led to improvements in sleep quality and overall health.
Hamza Mahad, People Operations Manager at Tintash says, “I feel that a 4-day work week is a very good step as we evolve in terms of processes built around employees. In the future, I can see more and more companies adapting to this model.”
An Equitable Workplace
According to TeamStage, women only make up 47.7% of the workforce with 61% of them reporting that they think motherhood hampers opportunities to progress their careers. With an extra day off, working mothers find balancing their careers with their parental responsibilities without having to leave work. Additionally, working fathers can contribute more time to domestic responsibilities, opening up opportunities for women to enter the workforce and creating workplaces with greater gender parity. This is evidenced by the aforementioned UK study by 4 Day Work Week Global which highlights that the time male workers spent with their children increased by 27%.
The common assumption is that if people are only coming in 4 days a week rather than 5, people will be less productive, and struggle to complete their work within the time frame. However, the World Economic Forum reports on research conducted by Microsoft Japan on a sample of 2,300 individuals which showed a 40% boost in productivity, attributed to more efficient meetings and well-rested workers who produced a finer quality of work which led to higher morale and employee satisfaction, improving teamwork within organizations.
“I believe in building responsibility in the team so they may get the work required of them done,” states Muhammad Sherjeel Usman Pasha, Co-founder of Kamayi, “How many days or how much time is micromanagement, which leads to a false sense of control. If the team is committed to getting their work done and wants to do it in 4 days, I couldn’t be happier.”
Pakistan’s introduction to the 4-day work week itself was through the smog in Lahore. While the 4-day work week alone isn’t enough to resolve Lahore’s environmental crisis, the shortened work week has been implicated with multiple environmental benefits. By only operating 4 days a week, companies could majorly reduce their energy consumption, leading to more sustainable business practices, essential in light of Pakistan’s energy crisis. By reducing the commute back and forth from work, the 4-day work week could potentially also significantly reduce carbon emissions.
Work models like coworking offer people flexibility in terms of both, the days they choose to work and the hours, making something like the 4-day workweek a very real possibility that is sustainable without existing businesses running a loss.
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